Last Friday, the flagbearers of the Convention People's Party and the People's National Convention took their turns on stating their vision on energy at the Great Hall, KNUST, with Edward Mahama stating, "The best security for any nation is to enlarge the middle class.”
The leaders of the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress were scheduled to have the platform this Friday. But, the sudden news that NDC leader John Evans Atta Mills has left the country for the United Kingdom may frustrate the programme.
Boakye Kyerematen Agyarko, a member of the Manifesto Committee of the NPP said the NPP candidate is prepared and ready to share the same platform with Prof Mills to debate on such an important issue.
However, hints picked up by this paper suggest that Prof Mills has asked Kwame Ampofo, his energy expert, to stand in for him. Except the organisers of the programme, the Energy Centre and Public Lectures Committee of KNUST had always insisted that the 'Energy - My Vision' address had to be given by the respective flagbearers alone.
Last week, Dr Mahama impressed the gathering with his understanding of the issues. The Nkrumaist leader promised to “give greater incentives” to the private sector to enable them participate in power generation.
Though the two Nkrumaist leaders acknowledged rising fuel prices, they both called for greater independence for regulatory bodies and, at the same time, for the deepening of the deregulation process.
However, according to former Energy Commissioner Kofi Asante, the CPP leader, Paa Kwesi Nduom's policy statement on energy was “rather disappointing, considering he was once the Energy Minister. I found Dr Edward Mahama offering more practical solutions than Dr Nduom did.”
He also described the CPP leader's promise to raise Ghana's per capita income from the estimated US$700 nominal figure this year to US$5,000 without offering any specific target year as “odd and vague.”
On his vision, Dr Mahama said he would seek to extend electricity to the remotest parts of Ghana through solar energy. And, in spite of the recent oil discovery, the PNC leader wants Ghana's dependency on fossil fuels to be reduced, focusing instead on solar energy, bio-fuels and the like.
Whilst both leaders called for the construction of a second refinery, Dr Nduom called for greater state intervention in the energy sector. Dr Mahama called for a second refinery to be situated in the north of the country to feed that part of Ghana and the Sahelian countries.
Mr Asante, who drafted Ghana's energy policy in 2005 said Dr Nduom took an "unnecessary and disingenuous swipe" at President John Agyekum Kufuor, by blaming the challenges in the energy sector that led to the crisis last year to political interventions from the top.
Dr Nduom said at the KNUST debate, "As you blame the operator" like the ECG, "you must remember that somewhere there's a politician who's making things difficult."
As if to remove all doubts as to the stature of the 'politician', the former Energy Minister explained it by saying that it is the President who determines the appointment of heads of the regulatory bodies. "The decision the President makes determines the pace of the energy we use," he said.
For his part, the PNC leader called for greater appreciation of science and technology in Ghana's development. He promised to make Research & Development a constant feature in the national budget.
Dr Ndoum, who as cabinet minister was proactively instrumental in the sale of Ashanti Goldfields to AngloGold, told the audience that his vision was "to institutionalise the concept of local content, and local ownership", in major industries.
He said rich mining areas like Obuasi, Tarkwa, Prestea and Akwatia remain poor communities, because unlike Johannesburg in South Africa, the extracted mineral is largely owned by foreigners.
Paa Kwesi Nduom of the CPP, who said he would provide the energy that would make the 'Golden Age of Business' work described the national goal of $1,000 per capita income by 2015 as modest. His vision is for Ghana to achieve $5,000 per capita income in my life time."
This brought some chuckles from the educated audience with one asking Dr Nduom to explain what he meant by his "life time," since he could live past 90 years or whether he meant his life at the presidency.
Dr Nduom's response was to ask Ghanaians for just a one four-year term "to provide leadership that works with a sense of urgency."